Every once in a while you stumble into the kind of venue that hits all your search parameters: industrial, modern, chic, elegant, minimalist, rustic, etc. And only very rarely does one venue have all those elements you’re looking for in a setting that is totally remote, serene and surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards. Durham Ranch is exactly that kind of venue.
As if the beauty of the grounds’ oak trees and olive groves aren’t enough, the property is owned and designed by interior designer Ken Fulk, who was careful to ensure that every space has a natural feel without being over-stylized.
While I was working with Alison Events, I had the pleasure of collaborating with the Paula LeDuc Fine Catering team to produce a wedding for a couple of food industry pros with impeccable taste and style. This wedding was photographed by Sergio Mottola Photography and we worked closely with Atelier Joya on the overall look and feel of the space.
Wine Country Wedding
Owners of a seafood restaurant in Portland, Jen and Ken wanted their wedding to reflect their shared love of food and classic, elegant eye for design. The sky-high cathedral ceilings at Durham Ranch allow for a ton of creativity when it comes to lighting and so the design crew decided to rig old lobster baskets filled with natural candle light to float just above the tables.
The couple worked very closely with the catering chef, Daniel Capra, to ensure the menu for the entire evening was reflective of the style of food they’d serve at their own restaurant. So, guests dined on a starter of fresh peaches with arugula, prosciutto and shaved parmesan then moved on to lemon infused grilled cod with crispy artichokes or filet of beef tenderloin with chipotle garnet yams. Let’s just say they nailed it on the menu choices.
Durham Ranch is ideal for Weddings and Events
Any event planner knows a killer event is all about the flow. Set under a grouping of sprawling oak trees, there’s a flat part of the property that’s perfect for ceremonies with nature as a backdrop.
On the upper deck lies a large pool with ample space for a bar and cocktail hour setup. And lastly, there’s a 4,000 square foot industrial barn with 33-foot tall ceilings and glass roll-up doors along the side that overlook the pool area. Depending on the guest count, there’s space to have a dance floor either inside the barn with the dinner tables or outside on the patio.
As far as existing décor goes, there are a few black and white stripe umbrellas, a giant moveable bar and some outdoor furniture, but mostly the interior of the venue is wide-open space with white walls, concrete flooring and lots of natural light.
About Durham Ranch
Set back on 74 acres of old cattle ranch land, Durham Ranch is a private estate with major style. From the sycamore lined quarter-mile entryway to the property’s tricked out 1940s cottage, no detail is under looked.
The bright white event barn fits up to 200 guests depending on the layout. Alison Hotchkiss says, “we love the barn because you can dress it up or keep it rustic and rough.” The sky’s the limit with the style you choose to embrace and in the six years they’ve been doing events at Durham Ranch, Alison Events has seen everything from live hanging plants suspended from the ceiling to a minimalistic approach of linear Edison bulbs dangling down the center.
Highlights of Durham Ranch
One of the things about this venue that makes most jaws drop is the rancher’s cottage. Brides have the option to get ready in the cottage, though most use it more as a staging area before walking down the aisle. This little two-bedroom home with a built-in loft, whitewashed kitchen, cozy sitting area, screen-in porch, and an outdoor shower will have you feeling like you’ve hit the wedding venue jackpot.
Alison Events recommends extending the party till midnight, as that’s not commonly offered in Napa County. Since Durham is so tucked away in the hills, they’re able to go a little bit later than most places that cut their end time to 10 or 11 at night. Alison typically works with Sales Manager Casey Burke and raves about her skills as an event planner with Paula LeDuc Fine Catering.
Tips on Hosting Events at Durham Ranch
Since there’s no available parking on-site for guests, you’ll want to book shuttles to get guests to and from the venue. The ride up to Durham Ranch can take 20 to 35 minutes in a shuttle depending where the pick up is, so just be sure to cushion the timing accordingly.
Types of Events the Venue is Ideal For
Wedding Ceremony, Wedding Reception, Rehearsal Dinner, Anniversary Party, Corporate Event, Social Event
You have a couple of options as to where to lodge guests. Yountville is about 35 minutes away and Calistoga is about 35 minutes in the opposite direction. There’s no shortage of things to do in either town. Yountville is more chic and trendy while Calistoga leans toward more casual in atmosphere. Both have plenty of hotel and restaurant options, but Calistoga is a bit further north from SF.
Alison Events recommends guests stay in Napa, where there’s a ton to do, eat and explore. Alison suggests stopping into Ad Hoc in Yountville for a Thomas Keller designed menu with a comfortable atmosphere.
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